New forms of technology have made fashion design a lot more convenient. Whether you’re using silk or polyester for your clothing collection, digital printing has revolutionized print designing by way of its use of dye sublimation technology.
The Origins of Fabric Printing
Fabric printing has been around since 916-1297 AD, in China, in the form of screen printing. Screen printing starts with the preparation of the screen made with layers of mesh and a light-reactive emulsion that will harden a design once it becomes exposed under light. When the emulsion is exposed, it gets washed off and the designing process begins with a stencil. Once a stencil gets created, the screen is lowered into the printing frame with ink will be pressing through the screen and stencil, causing the imprint of the design. After this long process, you finally have your printed designs decorated onto the finished product.
Dior Fall 2012 collection
Now, here’s something to consider. If clothing brands continuously find solutions to stay relevant using fashion forecasting, then screen printing is one highly customizable technique that fashion designers can use to flex creatively! However, screen printing isn’t the latest and greatest technique in fabric printing, nor is it the one with the largest swath of environmental advantages.
Fabric Printing Innovation At Its Finest
As digital technologies continue to impact fashion production, digital printing has evolved into the new, big fabric printing technique. As mentioned above, digital printing requires dye-sublimation, or the thermo-chemical process by which water-based ink bonds to fabrics through heat transfer. Designing printed fabrics using the dye-sublimation that’s crucial to digital printing is quite an intricate process.
- Choosing a fabric: Before considering digital print for your collection, choose wisely when it comes to fabrics. The best types of fabrics to use for digital print are: silk, cotton, polyester, and linen. You can read more about choosing the right fabrics from our article, “Choosing The Best Fabrics For Your Clothing Line”.
- Printing: Dye-sublimation requires the use of a printer that uses transfer paper. With the first printer, your graphics should be printed on transferable paper that uses sublimation inks (hence, the term “dye-sublimation”).
- Processing: With the fabric of your choice, use a heat press to transfer the inked design from the paper and onto the fabric.
This process of dye-sublimation, has made digital printing the “greatest innovation of the 21st century”. Digital printing doesn’t require the same dry time and elaborate setup as screen printing and has allowed brands to release collections a lot faster due to the high demand of keeping up with trends and the interest of consumer’s wants and needs. It allows designers to easily implement creations and stay on their toes when it comes to designing an upcoming collection.
Environmental Benefits of Digital Printing
Digital printing has a smaller environmental footprint than some other fabric printing techniques. That’s because it cuts the number of fabrics wasted as well as reduces water use by 90 percent and electricity use by 30 percent. That helps textile mills to improve their efficiency and lower their environmental impact .
When releasing your upcoming collection, considering incorporating digital printing. It might just help your brand’s efficiency and impact in the long run.